Touring Friuli Venezia Giulia's most beautiful vineyards and luxury resorts: luxury, relaxation and taste
Sleep in the sumptuous rooms of the ancient castle or in country chic rooms in the outbuildings; or rent an apartment among the rows of vines. Among its facilities, Castello di Spessa, in Collio Goriziano, boasts a golf course and a Vinum Spa specialising in treatments that harness the beneficial principles of grapes.
After a dip in the swimming pool, find time to tour the 60-hectare estate, then go underground to visit the wine cellar: an underground trail between mediaeval walls, and a World War II bunker 18 metres deep. You can enjoy an aperitif right here, as well as a guided tasting of Collio and Isonzo DOC wines.
The resort's chef, Tonino Venica, will delight you with his innovative local cuisine, in this area where Friulian, Austrian and Slavic gastronomic echoes converge.
Don't miss a walk along the Vigne Alte panoramic trail.
Places to visit in the surrounding area include Aquileia, Gorizia, Cividale and Grado.
Relais Russiz Superiore
Also on the Gorizia Collio, 7 rooms in renovated old cottages are named after the wines of the two wineries where you are guests: Russiz Superiore and Marco Felluga.
You are now entirely inside the world of wine and your glass will be your travelling companion, amidst Sauvignon and Ribolla Gialla, Pinot and Friulano.
You will be taken on a guided tour through the vineyards, then on to the historic Orzoni barrique cellar and the production cellars, where tastings will pair the wines with local cured meats and cheeses.
After indulging your palate, you can visit Udine.
Venica & Venica
In Dolegna del Collio, suites and apartments await you in a 19th century farmhouse surrounded by some of the most beautiful vineyards in Friuli Venezia Giulia. This is a secluded and quiet piece of countryside, with the Giulian Pre-Alps in the background and the border with Slovenia just a few kilometres away.
On a guided tour, you will be told the story of the Venica family of winegrowers and visit the cellars, before sitting down at the table right here, where the wine is made, to sip DOC whites accompanied by cheeses of various ages. A stay during the grape harvest period has an added charm.
The resort is located on the Montebello hill, close to the Longobard town of Cividale del Friuli, a UNESCO heritage site.
The vineyards are cultivated in terraces, also known as ronchi, hence the name of the resort, which combines a historic residence with more modern buildings. Friulano, Malvasia and Pinot are the highlights, but the winery also produces grappa, oil and bitters.
After relaxing by the pool, a guided tour of the cellar and sampling of Roncal wines awaits you. With your glass in hand, try the cheese matured in the marc of Schioppettino grapes with a selection of mostarde (a condiment made of candied fruit and a mustard-flavoured syrup), San Daniele prosciutto crudo and culatello (a type of cured meat).
This is the Friuli Isonzo DOC area, where the river to which the name is given flows, an area that slopes down from the hills towards the Adriatic Sea. The Luisa family's Ferretti line of wines originates on this iron red soil: great reds and whites with a solid structure.
At the Wine Resort, you can choose between apartments or rooms, then rely on the staff for a walk through the vineyards accompanied by a story of the estate's history and a visit to the vault and underground cellar, where fine bottles await you.
Before you leave, head to the panoramic room on the top floor of the building housing the cellars: from the rows of vines, the view extends as far as the Karst plateau and the Colle di Medea.
In Màlchina, in the heart of the Karst region, the resort is on an estate of organically cultivated Malvasia, Teran and Vitovska vineyards, as well as an orchard and olive grove.
A gourmet experience awaits at the in-house restaurant, where wines are served alongside dishes of simple fish, smoked meats, vegetables and herbs from the garden.
The resort also organises food and wine tours in nearby Trieste, a beautiful city where you can sample jota soup and the sweet speciality putizza, and enjoy a coffee or Spritz in one of the splendid historic venues.
For more information:
There are many events in Friuli Venezia Giulia related to wine culture. For information on the dates of the grape harvest, the Wine Route and the annual Cantine Aperte (Open Cellars) event, don't forget to visit the official tourism website of the Friuli region.